Weirding Way (2013)

Cantrell’s most recent body of work is an introspective series of self-portraits created after a turbulent move from Los Angeles to New York in 2012. The artist’s materials include torn and scratched C-prints, shattered acrylic, painted-over and re-photographed images as well as non-traditional framing devices, including sequined fabric. The exhibitionʼs confrontational collages are composed of both allegorical and literal elements, encompassing and compressing a spectrum of emotions and personae. Weirding Way juxtaposes portraiture and ordinary artifacts to suggest polar states of being.

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A Study in Portraiture (2009 - present)

A Study in Portraiture is an ongoing series of photographic portraits that explore the relationship between identity and performance. Each photograph is the result of a specific encounter between the subject and the photographer, structured by an elaborate and evolving range of exotic costumes and props which both expound and parody the experience of “otherness” as it has been elaborated through history, especially the history of photography. The photograph itself remains a shifting, uncertain meeting-ground: some aspects of the image are imposed by the artist, others are supplied by the sitter. Occurring in a series of city-specific Acts, this evolving exploration of community and subculture departs from Cantrell's own tribe of artists, curators, and creatives. Organically adapting to the host city and each participant, Acts have occurred in Los Angeles (Act I), London (Act II), and New York (Volta).

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Dead Mannerist (2007)

These seven color photographs are a love letter to British portrait painting, particularly the work of the American painter John Singer Sargent. But where Sargent's work reveals his subjects' identities clearly, Dead Mannerist deranges them extravagantly. Each photograph is titled after one of Jack the Ripper's murder victims, and the the subjects' faces are obscured, creating a visual metaphor for the loss of identity. The images are presented as mural-sized color prints, which explicitly mimic portrait painting but extend its methods.

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Century's End (2006)

Carnival barkers, occultists, snake-charmers, bearded ladies, lion-tamers, assembled spirits, and mortal coils populate the world of Century's End, a black and white group of fictional scenes patterned after 19th century spiritualism. Contemporary personalities are transformed through an imaginary past.

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Altered States (2005)

In 2005, Cantrell traveled to the Amazon, intending to document the Ahsura (an Indian tribe known for shrinking the heads of their enemies to trap their spirits). During her pilgrimage through the jungle landscape, her thoughts turned back to her own tribe of Los Angeles artists. On her return, she photographed her own community, directing her artist friends to channel their inner warrior (and often including elements of their own artistic practice). These portraits were then composited into photomontages incorporating her landscape photographs of the Amazon.

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Extended Family (2005)

Extended Family constructs a fictitious family tree from the artist's “Generation X” peer group. The titles of the photographs (falsely) identify the subjects as the offspring of Charles Manson's Family; fake birth certificates accompany each image. Influenced by the perverse legacy of radical attempts to redefine the family like “The Source Family” of the 1960s, Extended Family is a series of character portraits, steeped in eastside Los Angeles neo-noir.

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Corpus Battaglia (2004)

Corpus Battaglia mixes public and private histories of the American South: the mausoleum-still offerings of the Gettysburg, Antietam, and Valley Forge battlefields, and the iconic assembly of the artist's own “four fathers,” her mother's four previous husbands. In one photograph, her father, Ivo, stands in front of a locomotive, wearing an imposing Schriner's fez. In other images, objects stand in as substitutes for the father figure. These objects are records of personal memories, or in some cases actual relics. For example, Founding Four Fathers (Sam) is a still life of the artist's mother's second husband's burial urn, photographed on a mantle after a recent suicide. In Corpus Battaglia the search for the father becomes phantasmal, haunted and haunting, as it traverses the surface of fabled American battlefields, commemorative Civil War statues, and the real life mementos of family patriarchs.

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